'capsule from the nakagin capsule tower building' on display at mori art museum
image © designboom
'metabolism - the city of the future -
dreams and visions of reconstruction in postwar and present-day japan',
on at the mori art museum in tokyo, japan
until january 15th, 2012.
japanese architecture took a daring glance at a possible future when, in 1972, kisho kurokawa completed
the 'nakagin capsule tower building'. the two towers were built on the idea that structures, much like in nature,
could be created out of cells. 140 individual pods could be changed and moved as needed, creating a flexible
and adaptable unit. the towers consisted of a fixed central column to which these individual capsules
could be bolted and removed with four high-tension bolts. the idea was that every 25 years or so,
the pods could be replaced, giving the building a 200 year life span.
the perceivable future seemed to warrant a structure like this. kurokawa imagined a world where people
no longer needed a single dwelling but instead would live a more nomadic lifestyle, interchanging between various homes,
living in up to five different places. his audience was international business men who, working late, would need only a small area
to rest and rejuvenate before heading to their next destination.
'individuals should be protected by capsules in which they can reject information they do not need and in which
they are sheltered from information they do not want, thereby allowing an individual to recover his subjectivity
and independence' - kisho kurokawa
view of back
image © designboom
these concepts came from the japanese metabolism movement, to which kurokawa was a dedicated contributor.
the small group of architects imagined a world of flexible cities where buildings, like people,
were transient and ever changing. known as avant-garde architecture, the architects believed that traditional
fixed forms were no longer applicable to the modern lifestyle. the 'nakagin capsule towers' were
a direct demonstration of these manifestos, and although the group no longer exists,
its ideas have been the basis of countless projects since.
the individual capsules are 2.3 m × 3.8 m x 2.1 m (7.5 ft x 12 ft x 6.9 ft) and include a bed,
storage area and a small bathroom, just enough space for one person. the concrete units were prefabricated
off site in a factory and shipped to the location upon completion to be attached to central blocks.
each pod was fully equipped, much like a hotel, enabling the residents to live there without the hassle of moving in.
a built-in television, fixtures, sheets and even a toothbrush was included in each individual habitat.
although it is evident that the structure needs some work, demolishing the building instead of renovating it is a testament
to the power of a profit-driven society. since kurokawa's death, there has been no real initiative to preserve this monument
dedicated to forward thinking. instead, it has become a demonstration of the lack of appreciation for not just architectural
history but also the possibility that was once encapsulated in the structure.
one of the capsules from the building is on show during the exhibition 'metabolism - the city of the future -
dreams and visions of reconstruction in postwar and present-day japan' at the mori art museum .